Mangalyaan, India's maiden spacecraft to Mars, will enter the Red Planet in 75 days, Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) said.
“Mars Orbiter Spacecraft has travelled 525 million km on its heliocentric arc. Radio signals from earth now take 15 minutes to reach MOM and return. MOM’s Mars Orbit Insertion is planned exactly 75 days from today (Saturday),” Isro said in a post on its Mars Orbit Mission Facebook page.
A tricky path correction was performed on Mangalyaan last month. Another correction may be done in August.
India's space programme reached a major milestone on November 5 last year, when it launched the Mars Orbiter Mission, commonly known as Mangalyaan, from Sriharikota on an 11-month journey to find evidence of life on the Red Planet.
It is expected to enter the Mars atmosphere on September 24 this year.
Isro had initially planned four corrections during its journey to Mars. The manoeuvres are needed to keep the spacecraft on the required path. It is also essential for maintaining the required velocity.
Mangalyaan is on its 680-million-km voyage to Mars. If it makes it, India will join an elite club comprising the US, Russia and Europe. Once in the Mars orbit, the orbiter's five payloads will start performing experiments for the next six months.
Only the US, Europe, and Russia have sent probes that have orbited or landed on Mars. Probes to Mars have a high failure rate and a success will be a boost for national pride, especially after a similar mission by China failed to leave Earth’s orbit in 2011.
The Mangalyaan probe, India’s first interplanetary mission, has a Rs. 450-crore price tag, which is less than a sixth of the amount earmarked for a Mars probe to be launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa).